Luigi Vanvitelli (1700-1773) designed and built Ancona’s Lazzaretto (also known as Mole Vanvitelliana) between 1733 and 1743. The beautiful leprosarium was commissioned by Pope Clement XII, who made the Papal State city a free port, reviving its listless economy.
“The famous Lazzaretto”, art historian Amico Ricci (1794-1862) wrote, “surpasses in perfection all the others in Italy, and consequently is seen as a beautiful masterpiece even by foreign visitors. It grants a glimpse of how well its designer could pair magnificence and elegance with solid beauty, and of how exquisitely he could carry out the invariable rules of durability and comfort that make these factories perfectly executed.” (“Memorie storiche delle arti e degli artisti della Marca di Ancona”, Macerata 1834).
The Neapolitan architect, who also accomplished the entire reorganization of the harbor, envisioned the Lazzaretto like a cross-functional structure. The building has a pentagonal layout and is located on an artificial, two-hectare island, connected to the mainland by three bridges: the ideal place to stock goods or to temporarily detain people from cities or regions that might pose a risk to public health. On top of that, it was also useful to defend the harbor from outside threats, whether human or natural.
Today, the Lazzaretto is home to events, exhibitions, and to the Omero Tactile Museum – all with the same of magnificence, majesty, elegance and solid beauty it always had.